Chris Knights was happily telling family and friends over summer that he was adjusting well to the idea that he was no longer an AFL footballer.
“The Richmond boys were going through a gruelling preseason and I’d catch up with them for lunch and they’s say ‘Geez Knightsy, the session today was horrible, you’re not missing anything’,’’ the former Tigers and Adelaide forward said.
And then the matches started.
“Games come around and all of a sudden you get that feeling where you think ‘You know what? I loved doing that’,’’ he said.
“Unfortunately I can’t, so the next best thing is to watch and barrack like a passionate supporter. I have to say I am a big Richmond fan now.’’
“I think it’s really important for AFL players to realise that nothing lasts forever.” – Chris Knights
Knights is also fortunate that he has been able to channel his energies into his web services business, ZibMedia, which he established five years ago while playing for the Crows.
“It was an interesting transition for me because towards the end of 2016 I got another serious injury, which I was quite used to because unfortunately I spent three years at Richmond being quite injured,’’ Knights said.
“But the good thing about that was I had the business, I had something to go straight into. Something that demanded my time … although it was something I had to get my head around because I wasn’t able to exert all of my frustration out through exercise and through football.
“I think it’s really important for AFL players, and really for people in general, to realise that nothing lasts forever.
“So it’s really good that whilst you’re doing something that you’re also developing other aspects of your life.
“Now the AFL Players’ Association, the AFL and the clubs have been really good in understanding that a footy player’s AFL career isn’t going to last forever. So it’s about maximising the time spent playing AFL to develop yourself in other areas, whether that’s studying, work experience, doing a pre-apprenticeship or, as it was in my case, developing a business.’’
Knights has no doubt that developing ZibMedia while he was playing improved his game, and in turn made the transition to retirement easier.
“It was like football started to become an outlet for me and then when I needed that outlet from football, business was it for me,’’ he said. “So I encourage players to do that, provided that it doesn’t take away from their No.1 goal, which to be the best footballer they can be.
“In football, in general, you can have your highs and lows and a lot of players experience a lot of the lows, whether it’s injury, whether it’s form, pressures from the media.
“Sometimes if you’ve only got football it can consume you.” – Chris Knights
“So there’s all these things that you can go through as a footballer and sometimes if you’ve only got football it can consume you. So it’s good to have a balanced lifestyle and it doesn’t necessarily mean having work outside of football it might be balanced with surfing, a hobby or working on your relationship, just something that develops you as a person as well.’’
Knights said Richmond and the broader football community had recognised the need to invest in players as people, not just footballers.
“One of their pillars at the football club was ‘aware’ and when I went there I wasn’t sure what that word actually meant or stood for,’’ he said.
“But the Richmond footy club live it, and to me it’s actually caring about what their teammate/friend is actually doing and what they’re up to.
“So when I got injured everyone would get around me. Not just send a text message but actually come over and sit with me or catch up with you for coffee .. they’d say how are you doing, what sort of things are you doing to get back, how can we help?’’
Knights spoke about the theme when he addressed the first-year players at the annual AFL Players’ induction camp earlier this year. He was excited to know he was speaking to a group that might include potential Brownlow Medallists or club captains. His main message was that, even though you hear it all the time, your football career does pass in the blink of an eye. “It felt like yesterday that I was in the same position,’’ he said.
Knights joined the AFL’s Match Review Panel this season, but in recent months the focal point of his concentration has been developing and launching a social payment app called Zibit.
The free app allows people to split bills or divide up share household bills in a quick, easy and secure manner.
“We’ve created it so it’s social and its fun,’’ Knights said.
“The Richmond boys are loving it. We used it the other day at lunch. Dave Astbury picked up the bill and then he added Benny Griffiths, Ivan Maric, Reece Conca onto the bill, customised the payments and hit send, they received it as a notification on their phone and then he got paid straight away.’’
Knights said one of the app’s greatest assets was that it took the awkwardness out of paying people, and was ideal for things like footy tipping competitions or wedding presents.
There is also scope to use Zibit in a playful way.
He chuckles when recounts the tale of going out to dinner with Maric, who sent seven payment reminders in a matter of seconds before Knights even got the chance to hit the pay button.
Zibit can be downloaded for free at the itunes app store, or you can find out more on Facebook HERE